Ethics Reform Group Responds to City Manager’s Threatening Letter

Ethics Reform Group Responds to City Manager’s Threatening Letter

Below is the statement released by the Coalition for Ethics Reform in response to the threatening letter sent by City Manager Rick Fernandez’s attorney to the City’s Independent Ethics Board


The Coalition for Ethics Reform is outraged that, through his attorney, City Manager Fernandez has demanded an apology from Tallahassee’s independent ethics board over a complaint that Fernandez unethically received a $4,761 illegal deep discount from the Edison Restaurant for his daughter’s wedding reception. The complaint also claims Fernandez helped line up a job for the restaurant’s catering director Eddie Kring in the city’s communications department four months after he had been fired from the Edison.

Attorney Steven Andrews’ letter to board attorney Jerry Currington attempts to bully the board into making an apology, when the Board was only performing its duty to hold city officials accountable.

Since City Commissioners have so far refused to strengthen enforcement of Tallahassee’s absurdly weak ethics code, the Board had no choice but to refer the matter to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

In his letter, Mr. Andrews complained that Mr. Fernandez, his daughter and son-in-law, Delia and Brian Finnerty, an attorney in Andrews’ firm, were never formally or informally served a copy of the complaint or given an opportunity to reply to it or give sworn testimony to the Ethics Board.

The argument is specious, since the complaint was not against the Finnerty’s, but against Fernandez for using his position to solicit a gift from the restaurant, which is substantially subsidized by the City.

The Ethics Board clearly has the legal authority under the 2014 charter amendment to “refer ethics and corruption matters to appropriate enforcement agencies.” The citizens of Tallahassee voted overwhelmingly to create the independent Ethics Board to act as an ethics watchdog in our community and the idea that the Board should apologize for doing its job is absurd.


Peter Butzin, Common Cause Florida

Ben Wilcox, Integrity Florida

Catherine Baer, Tea Party Network

Marilyn Wills, League of Women Voters

15 Responses to "Ethics Reform Group Responds to City Manager’s Threatening Letter"

  1. Power breeds corruption and absolute power breeds absolute corruption—-the whole city hall bunch , top to bottom needs a one way ticket to sister city Chicago where there operational proceedures are common practice and city voters keep re electing them regardless (that is just how bad Tallahassee government has become —used to be a nice place to live—-but not anymore !!)

  2. Corrupt people do not make a practice of hiring ethical, highly-principled individuals to key positions. Much better to hire someone whose “ethics” are composed of protecting and cooperating with the corrupt bosses. Why hire someone who will rat on you and your rackets due to some silly sense of “right and wrong”? If you’re corrupt, you want to to hire people who are happy to be complicit and thereby enjoy the fruits of corrupt land deals, crony arrangements and tax schemes, money laundering, etc. Fernandez was hired by people at COT with a history of questionable and illicit dealings, to make sure the COT schemes continued on without interference or question.
    Hey – it worked for obama for eight years; I guess Gillum, Maddox and others thought it would work for them.

    1. Exactly. We have our own little Washington D.C. complete with Obama wannabe Gillum. This Fernandez guy needs to go, but so did Lois Lerner & a cast of others. I’m losing hope in our once nice city – Dr. Jackson is about all we have left.

  3. Fernandez was hand picked. Knowing what they knew about the former City Manager, the rats at COT saw a great opportunity to complete the good ole boys club. Ever sit thru a bid opening with Fernandez in attendance? He was always looking out for the cronies. There is so much more here and folks likely will never know the whole truth. What Fernandez failed to get was he was not on the same level as Maddox, Gillum, Zeffer, and Corey….dispensable being the operative word. They just used him to keep up their deceptions and crooked ways – what’s a $4k discount and a few football game treats to keep him in line? Wonder if he will sell them all out? They all deserve to go to the clink together, the thieves that they are.

  4. Tricky Ricky breaks the law and now is portrayed as the victim. Nice try.

    Commissioners must demand his resignation immediately! The Mayor and Maddox can go with him.

    Commissioners have a duty to serve and protect the City. Leaders do not quietly sit on the sidelines–they take action! To do nothing is weak and cowardly.

  5. As I said before, his hire is on Maddox, Ziffer, and Miller, as they sneaked around Gillum and Richardson to have him hired without doing a search. He is far worst than the prior city manager.

  6. Citizens should demand the city managers termination. Not only is he tone deaf to ethical standards, he is attempting to bully the city’s own ethics board. With those qualities, how can he continue to serve?


    This city manager has no respect for following the rules and policies of our very weak ethics ordinance! Even worse he has no respect or fear of the ethics commission members individually or collectively!

    Unfortunately Tricky Ricky’s actions confirm his belief that he is responsible for making the rules not following them!

    Ricky lied to the public when he was accused of taking free tickets in Adam “the rat” Corey’s exclusive football box. I filed an ethics complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics to prove he accepted these tickets from a Tallahassee lobbyist and city vendor that were valued at approximately $
    This is only one of several ethics violations! I promise our community that I will take all legal actions available to me to show his ethical if not illegal actions that will clearly document he is unfit to serve Tallahassee residents!

    1. I believe commissioners erred when failing to conduct a nationwide search for a city manager for the sake of not wanting any oversight from a legitimate manager. It has come back to bite them like nothing we have ever seen before.

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